State chips in another $31.5M toward county courthouse
The Oregon Legislature passed a bill June 30 authorizing $31.5 million in state funding for construction of a new Clackamas County Courthouse in Oregon City.
Securing the funding was the top priority for Clackamas County officials during the 2019 state legislative session. The county, seeking a total of approximately $95 million from the state, will have to lobby Oregon's elected officials again to complete the construction of a larger, modern courthouse to be located on the Red Soils campus between the county's two main administrative buildings.
"The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners would like to thank the members of our state legislative delegation and legislative leadership for making this courthouse project funding happen," said Clackamas County Chair Jim Bernard. "This was our top priority this session. Clackamas County desperately needs a new courthouse that meets the needs of our growing population. It's a win for our residents, businesses and our infrastructure."
The total courthouse project cost is estimated at $230 million, of which the county will be responsible for approximately $135 million. County officials are hoping the state will provide the remainder of the funds during the 2021 legislative session.
State funding will be contingent upon Clackamas County securing money for the local share of the project. County officials currently are exploring various local funding options, which may include a voter-approved bond measure.
Clackamas County secured $1.2 million for courthouse construction planning in the 2017 legislative session. This latest $31.5 million from the state will go to support design and pre-construction of the building.
The existing county courthouse, on Main Street in Oregon City, was built during the 1930s when the population of the county was just over 50,000. The population today is more than 415,000, yet the same overcrowded courthouse is being used, county officials say.
Clackamas County judges and prosecutors have identified the current courthouse building as seismically unsound and poorly designed, forcing crime victims and perpetrators together in hallways when they come to court. County officials say the building also lacks the sufficient number of courtrooms to effectively administer justice for the county's growing population.